Earwax (Cerumen) Impaction
Cerumen, or earwax, is a natural cleaning and lubricating fluid in the ear canals. Cerumen is created to keep the inner ear soft, disinfected and clean – the waxy fluid has anti-bacterial properties that help maintain a healthy ear. Normally, the cerumen slowly flows out of the inner ear, dries and then flakes away. If there is a blockage in the outer ear, it may build up and become impacted inside the ear canal. At Julie Zweig, MD Integrative Sleep & ENT, we can perform treatment for earwax (cerumen) impaction at our clinic in Alpharetta, GA.
The ear is a delicate and complex structure that has amazing capabilities. One of its features is that it is self-cleaning. Cerumen is formed from glands found in the skin of the outer portion of the ear canal. This waxy fluid protects and cleans the ear, removing dead skin cells and debris from the ear as it flows slowly to the outside of the ear. This movement is assisted by the jaw chewing motion, allowing the earwax to exit the ear.
Earwax buildup or impaction can occur when there are objects inside the ear pushing the wax backward. Ironically, trying to clean the ears with a cotton swab can contribute to cerumen impaction. Anything that is put inside the ear can push earwax back inside and plug the ear.
Symptoms of Earwax Impaction
If you have too much earwax inside your ear, it can affect your hearing and cause other symptoms. Signs of cerumen impaction include:
- Muffled hearing
- Feeling like the ear is “full” or pressurized
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ear
- Discharge or odor
- Itchy or painful ears
Earwax impaction symptoms can become worse over time, resulting in increased hearing loss and irritation. Clearing the cerumen out of the ear can relieve the symptoms and restore the natural balance.
There are home remedies that can be used for cleaning the ears of excess earwax. Using a few drops of mineral oil or OTC ear cleaner can loosen cerumen and allow it to be flushed out. However, if you have a perforation within the ear, diabetes, eczema inside the ear or any ear condition, it may be best to have your ears professionally cleaned by an ENT specialist. This can reduce risks of infection and other complications.
If you have symptoms of cerumen impaction, contact our team at Julie Zweig, MD Integrative Sleep & ENT. We can schedule an exam with Dr. Zweig to evaluate your ears and perform treatment if needed.